Philipp Bachinger - Freeing your feet with minimalist footwear


Free Your Feet (FYF) was originally inspired by the needs of kite surfers who require protection against hidden sharp objects while still being able to be in sync with their board. FYF’s latest version is ideal for any sport best done barefoot, such as rock climbing and tightrope walking. Co-founder Philipp Bachinger explains why Dyneema® was essential in creating protective minimalist footwear that “is ten times better than anything that previously existed.”

Please introduce yourself, and share with us why you do what you do.
My name’s Phillip Bachinger. I am working on the world’s most minimalist footwear with Swiss Barefoot Company and doing my best to improve it every day.

Can you tell us about how you got into this industry, and what you were doing before starting with Swiss Barefoot Company?
I worked with the company’s founder Dr. Dieter Hesch for several years before I eventually took over. During this time I gained the knowledge to run and grow the business. We had met in Egypt a decade ago while kitesurfing, right where the Sahara Desert meets the Red Sea and the trade winds are strong. The beaches were rough and full of sharp stones and broken glass. And believe it or not, this environment led to the initial idea for the 'Swiss Protection Sock'.

You really champion Dyneema® fiber and its qualities. What led you to seek it out to use in your product?
I knew the yarn from kitesurfing – Dyneema® lines have been holding riders to their kites for years. It was always on our radar, and it’s truly the strongest possible solution for our footwear design. And although costs are high, it’s absolutely worth it. To make matters sweeter, DSM Dyneema keeps pushing its R&D team to make Dyneema® fabrics better and to bring more variations so companies can keep moving forward with it.

What about Dyneema® fiber made it the best choice for your footwear?
We tried many type of yarns over the years, including some known aramids. But it turned out Dyneema® provides far superior abrasion- and cut-resistance for our quite unique contact needs. Soon we will also achieve puncture-resistance with a different type of (100% Dyneema® Knit) structure.

What is the process when working with a material as strong as Dyneema® yarn?
Dyneema® fiber has a very low friction. It’s slippery. We countered that with PVC grip dots applied on the bottom of our product. Its cut- and abrasion-resistance is impressive given how light and versatile the yarn is and how relatively little of it we use in our minimalist footwear. For the real-life testing, we work with a set of sportsmen – runners, climbers, surfers, kiters, etc. We also do several ISO-normed tests.

"I knew the yarn from kitesurfing—Dyneema® lines have been holding riders to their kites for years"

Two years ago you launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign to introduce your FreeYourFeet to a bigger audience, how was this experience for you?
It was a pleasure to introduce FYF to the world market with that platform. We got great feedback. It was well planned and a powerful campaign. Kickstarter, as a way of pre-financing toolings and production, worked great. Plus, it created a lot of press coverage.

I saw you have a delivery time right now of 12 weeks. Does that mean the new production will have improvements in it?
Yes. We push a consistent evolution for the FYF and keep updating it with each production run – even during each production run. Adjusting the fit, thickness, sizes, composition, etcetera. I am already working on completely new applications with Dyneema® yarn, but can’t go into that just yet…

What possibilities do you see for Dyneema® yarns outside of your own work?
I see many exciting applications, such as self-expanding tsunami walls and other types of protective clothing like super-thin cycling gear. I’ve even seen case studies to use it for space elevators....

Related articles

Read interviews with trailblazers to find out more, or make sure to stay up to date.